How Daily Regimens Can Fight the Effects of Sundowning

Sleep disturbances. Individuals with Alzheimer’s and other dementias often experience a disruption in their sleep patterns. Although the exact cause is unknown, Alzheimer’s Association states these changes are the result of the disease’s impact on the brain. Their internal clock gets out of rhythm. The individual may become more “active” in the late afternoon and through the night: pacing, fidgety, increased confusion, agitation, and anxiety. Because it seems to start later in the day, this is often referred to as Sundowning.

To combat Sundowning and help the Individual get back into a regular day/night regimen, there are a few recommendations.

Create a daily routine and schedule. Wake up in the mornings at a regular time and get the day started. Individuals living with dementia are usually sharper earlier in the day, so this might be a good time to do the more difficult tasks: bathing, exercising, etc.

Exposure to daylight is encouraged, maybe take a short walk to the mailbox.

Filling the day with tasks that are meaningful to them and stimulate the brain can reduce anxiety or agitation.

Reducing daytime napping.

As with most things in life, staying hydrated and eating well-balanced positively fuels us physically and mentally.

All of this is easy to recommend, but not necessarily easy in practice, especially when sleep disturbances affect the Caregiver too. When we’re tired, it’s hard to operate at our best.

If you’re a Caregiver, invest in yourself. It may be difficult but look for ways to practice self-care. It takes a village, let’s build a support system.

The Day Place is a community-engaged organization that understands and supports the needs of Individuals with Memory Disorders and their Caregivers! We provide respite, education, resources, and tools that help you live your best life. Let’s chat to see how we can help, 205-285-9245.

Angela Hammond
As seen in: Gardendale Health
Written by Angela Hammond

Licensed Masters Social Worker & The Day Place/Owner
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